As Formula 1 leaves Europe for the last six races of the year, there is no doubt about the identity of the 2022 world champion. Winner of eleven of the sixteen Grands Prix contested, the Dutchman is having an exceptional season .
En 2021, Max Verstappen won his first Formula 1 world title in questionable circumstances, at the last Grand Prix. However, with ten victories in the season, this first crown, snatched in the last kilometers from Lewis Hamilton, was not usurped. This year, there will be absolutely no debate about the legitimacy of his second title. The Dutchman can get it from the next race in Singapore (October 2), while there are still five Grands Prix to go. On the condition that he wins and that Charles Leclerc does not finish in the top eight. “I will need a bit of luck to win the title in Singapore, nuance Verstappen. I’m not thinking about the championship, I want to take advantage of the moment and try to win all the races. ” A mission far from impossible, since Max Verstappen has just scored five consecutive successes, to bring his total this season to eleven victories.
“The current period, with five victories in a row, is incredible for the team and me, he rejoices.
We are living through an extraordinary year, we must take advantage of it. The car now works on all types of circuits. At the start of the season, the single-seater was too heavy, which did not help performance. Since then, we have reduced the weight and we have progressed in the choice of settings. ” In the statistics, having climbed the first step of the podium 31 times, Verstappen has now exceeded the number of victories of a few F1 legends: Piquet (23), Fangio (24), Lauda (25), Clark (25), Stewart (27). And joined Nigel Mansell in seventh place in F1 history. “I always find it difficult to compare, he tempers, because today we have more races per season. You have a very good car, you have a great chance of winning a lot. Is it fair to compare the number of victories? I never quite knew what to think of it. ”
A mature and sensible analysis. This season has, like last year, 22 Grands Prix. For comparison, there were only fifteen when Jackie Stewart last titled in 1973, and sixteen in 1992 when Mansell was crowned.
Overtaken by the Ferrari at the start of the season, weighed down by two retirements in the first three races, the Red Bull has become, since this summer, the best single-seater on the grid. A wise observer, Alain Prost confesses his admiration: “We see that, technically, there is control at the team level, it’s impressive. For me, it’s the great team of the moment. With great stability in its workforce, it has managed the change of regulations perfectly. But only Max Verstappen knows how to exploit this machine to its full potential. With only one victory and 125 points behind, his teammate, Sergio Pérez, does not compete. “He has a big lead The year is going as we had imagined on the psychological aspect, analyzes Prost. After winning his first title, we feel Verstappen more confident, we feel more reasonable, taking a little less risk. He is managing his second championship in the best possible way.”
Three glaring examples illustrate this change in the behavior of the Dutchman, when he had to start far on the grid because of penalties for changing the engine or technical problems. Thus, in Hungary (10th on the grid), in Belgium (14th) and in Italy (7th), he wisely approached the first lap, avoiding collisions, in order to patiently build his recovery until victory each time! Labeled as an arrogant mad dog when he debuted in 2015, this label still stuck to him last year, because of his muscular battles with Lewis Hamilton, their clashes, and his inability to recognize his faults. Have the Verstappen man and driver changed this season? “From his F1 debut, Max had incredible natural speed, car control and enormous self-confidence. All this has not changed, explains Christian Horner, the boss of the Red Bull team. The difference comes from the accumulated experience and, of course, from the maturity he displays today. He arrived in F1 at 17, he is now 24, so it is a normal evolution. ”
The adversary has also changed. Today, his number one rival is Charles Leclerc, born like him in 1997, and no longer the legend Lewis Hamilton, twelve years his senior. On the track, Verstappen does not seem to have the same attitude with the Monegasque this season as against the Briton in 2021.
” There are two things, explains Verstappen. I’ve been up against Charles on the track for a long time Longer. Then, with the rule change this year and the new cars, it’s not the same thing. Before, we only had one chance to overtake, because the tires overheated if we stayed a few corners behind an opponent. Now we have more opportunities to attack or defend. So we do not try everything for everything. ”
If his self-confidence has always exceeded the norm, Max Verstappen has no reason to doubt today. He is truly capable of winning all the remaining races and permanently undermining the morale of his opponents. Calmer at the wheel, more open and talkative in the face of the media, Max Verstappen improves over time, and sends back a more sympathetic image. However, his impulsive nature sometimes emerges during radio exchanges with his team during the races. “ I am very expressive, I say what I think, he acknowledges. But that doesn’t mean I’m upset. I just need to externalize my feelings about the situation. When you drive, you get bloodier from the adrenaline. ” Admitted fault, completely forgiven by the man who speaks to him on the radio, his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, who explains: “The relationship between a driver and his engineer is based on trust. The more direct a driver is, the more he trusts us. When a driver no longer gives his opinion directly, when he beats around the bush, it can’t work. ” Certainly not the character of Max Verstappen, future double Formula 1 world champion.
Power titled, the French disappointed
The Indycar season, the American single-seater championship, is already over. Will Power (photo) won his second title after that of 2014.
The Australian, winner of only one race this year – against five for his great rival Josef Newgarden – sees his consistency rewarded.
On the French side, Romain Grosjean and Simon Pagenaud finished 13th and 15th, with only one podium each.
A disappointing record for their first season in their respective teams. In 2023, they will keep their steering wheel.
For his second season in the discipline, the young 21-year-old Frenchman obtained the Formula 3 title in Monza (Italy). At the forefront throughout this season, which ended with two victories and six podiums, Victor Martins, supported by Alpine, should join next year the higher category, Formula 2. He will probably find Isack Hadjar there. The other tricolor, aged 17 and supported by Red Bull, fought for the title for a long time but finally finished fourth after a delicate end to the season.
Audience success for Monza
The Italian Grand Prix achieved the second best historic audience for a Formula 1 Grand Prix on Canal+, with an average of 1,470,000 viewers and a peak of 1,720,000 at the start. Arriving on the encrypted channel in 2013, F1 has seen its audiences rise sharply over the past three seasons (in photo, Franck Montagny and Margot Laffite, F 1 presenters on Canal+).
In addition to the live broadcasts during the next Grand Prix in Singapore, a behind-the-scenes documentary from the Alpine team with Esteban Ocon at the French Grand Prix is available on myCanal.
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